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Jan 3, 2007 09:50 PM

The One Trick Pony Moving to JP - Advice Please!

Alright, after years of keeping roots in Cambridge, I'm heading over the river to JP very soon. I'm seeking recommendations in these categories:

MUST TRY places that I've not hit up yet (like the new El Oriental). I know Alex's Chimis and the secret roti place, James Gate, Ten Tables, Costellos and that's about it. Help a girl out, here!

BECOME A REGULAR kinds of places. My favorites in Cambridge would be Armando's, Formaggio Kitchen, Charlie's Kitchen and the Forest Cafe. Sometimes Cambridge Common and/or Chez Henri. Not highest on the food list, but good for other things (like paying only $6.50 for a Makers Mark and Bud back at Charlie's.)

COFFEE Where's the best cup o' dark roast going to come from? I liked stopping by City Feed on the way to Stonybrook.

And finally, TAKEOUT THAT WON'T WRECK MY DIET. Where can I get a healthy meal when I'm dragging my @ss home after the gym? Salads, asian food, soups, grilled fish?

Oh, and any favorite 'hounding stops on the orange line or 39 bus that I should know about? There's a whole new subway line for me to explore, hooray!

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  1. Well, I'm assuming that you already know about the weekend brunch at Centre Street Cafe, right?

    Hints: be there a little before opening for the first seating or be prepared to wait. However, they will let you come in and grab a cup of coffee from the self-serve station in the back to take while you wait.

    1. For takeout after the gym, try Wonder Spice (on Centre St) for Cambodian/Vietnamese. I think most of their dishes taste better in house, but with the exception of the fried stuff most of it holds up well for takeout. You should also check out La Papusa Guanica (near Alex's Chimis), but be prepared to wait or call ahead. Delicious Papusas that travel fairly well. Purple Cactus has some pretty healthy offerings (they will put grilled tofu on just about anything you want) and is worth exploring....nothing I'd go out of my way for, but it's a decent option when you want quick, healthy, and fairly tasty wrap/salad/burrito fare.

      Coffee.....well, you have a few choices and you'll have to pick your own favorite. JP Licks roasts their own in house, and it's good. I prefer Sweet Finnish because I'm not really into dark roast, plus they have the cardamom-flavored pulla rolls that I adore.

      Welcome to JP!

      1. you might like the dogwood cafe near forest hills. good pizzas and decent entrees, good beer selection, cozy atmosphere. doyles is good for the beer but skip the food if you can! i've heard lots of good things about cha fahn--they have a newly expanded menu that looks great--but i still haven't gone in there other than for a cup of tea. definitely very healthy but probably not takeout-conducive.

        JP seafood cafe on centre st (japanese/korean) is a good healthy takeout option. their sushi has gotten better over the years, in my opinion, and they have the usual variety of soups and salads. there's also a harvest co-op which is a little trashy but will do in a pinch. and city feed & supply (right by the boylston T-stop) is awesome--wonderful sandwiches, small but well-chosen selection of groceries.

        finally, you're a short bus ride or drive from roslindale which also has lots of great options (delfinos, sophia's grotto, various bakeries and other ethnic markets).

        welcome to the neighborhood!

        3 Replies
        1. re: alyssap99

          I really like the Dogwood, too, especially as a "become a regular" type of place. That's assuming MB is moving to that part of JP though. The Dogwood has excellent pizzas, especially if you tell them to cook them well-done.

          Of course, if you REALLY want to become a regular in JP, you need to find yourself a local. Again, depends on where you're living in JP. And the "type" of place you like. Griffins (by the Dogwood) will appeal to anybody into David Lynch films. The Fireside is more of a casual, neighborhood place. Costello's is sort of the Tim's Tavern (including good burgers) of JP. Triple D's was eaten whole by the Alchemist, which some people like (food's okay, crowd's a little poseur for my tastes). The Midway's great for live, local music. James's Gate is an amazing hang-out-with-friends-by-the-fireplace-and-talk hangout (and also has surprisingly good food). Just explore. It's fun. Except at Griffin's. That place is just scary.

          1. re: Bostonbob3

            griffins has always intrigued/frightened me for just those reasons!i don't know anyone who's actually been inside though...

            1. re: alyssap99

              Oh, I've been inside many times (usually after a full night of drinking at The Fireside). It's, uh, interesting, if you're into real characters. :0

        2. Cafe D is awesome. Creative but judicious pairing of flavours, careful cooking. In many ways, I like it more than Chez Henri. Plus they have a few varieties of grilled fish.

          1. welcome to jp.

            a caveat: i divide my time b/w jp and cambridge, and i think that, chow-wise, cambridge is approximately 47.8 times better than jp. that said, there are some decent places (most of which have been mentioned, but i feel the need to be opinionated for a moment.)

            1. coffee: mostly, city feed is it. jp licks is the same run of the mill stuff they serve anywhere, and don't let them fool you about sweet finnish--if you like their coffee, you don't like coffee. sweet christophers (up the street a block or so from jp licks) is a newish "dessert bar" that serves coffee, tea, espresso, etc.. they seem decent, though not really a true coffee fanatic's hangout. there's a place by the green street stop called "ula cafe" or something that was supposed to open in the fall, but it keeps getting pushed back. got my fingers crossed on that one. there's a place called "java jo's" by forest hills t. it's not bad.

            2. must try: 10 tables. i don't think el oriental is a must try for any reason other than the hype it gets on this board. it's pretty good. but not a "must try" in my book. cha fahn might be, but i haven't been so i don't know. (yet.) pizza at dogwood, i'd say--if you like thin crust pizza, probably the best i've had so far in boston. alchemist and cafe d's look like they'd be good, but i haven't been.

            3. takeout: i like food wall. actually, i just like their shredded chicken w/onions special. but it will probably wreck your diet. it's better than charlie chan's, closer in the center of jp. pupusa guanaca might be better for you, but as mentioned, be prepared to wait.

            4. places to be a regular: i like wonder spice, nothing too special, but not too shabby. same old place is nice if you just want a quick slice. the burger i had at costello's was pretty good. bella luna is pretty good italian/american/slightly eclectic. (nice pizza's too.) zon's does comfort food pretty well.

            4.1. places NOT to be a regular: bukhara is TERRIBLE. i envy cantabrigians for their easy access to tamarind bay, kebab factory and punjabi dhaba. coming from cambridge, don't even bother. the thai place ("ban chiang" is it?) in jp center i thought was pretty mediocre too, but that was a long time ago, so maybe they've changed. others disagree, but i persist in finding sorella's to be dirty and not very good food.

            5. bakeries: sweet finnish--the pulla (cardamom rolls) are nice when they are fresh, but in my experience they are often stale. they have a wonderful space but surprisingly little selection. (NB: pulla surprise is pulla with a slice of apple on top. since the apple is on top, it's not really a surprise.) fiore's does good cannolis. canto 6 is hands-down, no-contest the best bakery in jp. on a par with hi-rise, i'd say (losing only b/c they don't have the same selection of breads; what they do have is mostly awesome though.)

            ok, so those are my opinions, or at least the ones i can think of now. welcome to jp...

            2 Replies
            1. re: autopi

              I'm surprised no one's mentioned the Alchemist as a hang out. Not super cheap but seems like that kind of place if I were to ever be a regular somewhere. Galway House is filled with a certain kind of regular, man it's been years since I've been there.

              Don't forget Blue Frog for a bakery. They serve coffee along with Canto 6, not sure how it fares for real coffee drinkers.

              As mentioned above and in a million other JP threads, Food Wall is pretty decent takeout Chinese.

              If you don't want to wait in line for a nicer breakfast or eat super early, Bon Savor is the place to go. Forest Hills Diner is a quick greasy spoon.

              1. re: Joanie

                I've not tried the Alchemist, but my JP friends don't speak very highly of it. I was thinking of you when I added this post, as you always seem to promote the 39 bus 'hounding route!